Westchester County Unveils New Public Education Program for Senior Citizens

Introducing Senior B.E.A.T — Be Educated About Transit Program Presented By DDR Public Relations, Inc.

 

SUMMARY

The Westchester County Department of Public Works & Transportation commissioned DDR Public Relations to create a public education campaign called Senior B.E.A.T — Be Educated About TransitProgram that aims to educate the Westchester senior population on how to use the Bee-Line Bus System as a viable travel option in order to “broaden their travel possibilities and restore a sense of involvement in their community.”  Senior B.E.A.T. is a program of the Westchester County Department of Public Works & Transportation with the cooperation of the Office for Senior Programs and Services and with funding from the New York State Department of Transportation.

 

OBJECTIVES

  • Increase senior ridership on Westchester buses and trains
  • Get seniors on board with the benefits of using public transportation instead of driving and persuade them to develop enthusiasm for taking public transportation
  • Break through the clutter and reach seniors with dynamic messages and information that “speaks” to them
  • Ensure that seniors develop a strong knowledge of the passenger skills needed to take public transportation including safety rules, bus and train accessible features, etc.

 

STRATEGIES

  • Create print and A/V materials that communicate an understanding of the senior experience
  • Build relationships with key Senior Centers and schedule focus groups and presentations there, as well as distribute our materials through these Centers
  • Inform and educate seniors about using the transportation system including reading schedules, finding stations and stops and planning their trip via a unified visual and written communications campaign

 

GamesPROGRAM IMPLEMENTAION & ELEMENTS

  • We compiled a list of key senior centers, and then coordinated a series of interviews and focus groups designed to determine the current attitudes about Bee-Line buses among the Westchester County senior population.
  • Upon completion of our research, we began the process of developing:
    • A video
    • A brochure
    • A trivia game
    • A crossword puzzle
  • We provided the Westchester County Department of Public Works & Transportation with a “turn-key” toolkit containing templates, CDs with all graphic layouts, software types, formats and guidelines for printing.
  • Using established benchmarks for success, we measured the effectiveness of our campaign with before and after opinion surveys.
  • Once our materials were completed, we coordinated a press conference at the  Doyle Senior Center in New Rochelle with attendance by local politicians and dignitaries, as well as key local media.
  • We developed press releases and media advisories that featured information about the campaign

 

RESEARCH

Focus groups and surveys were conducted in local senior centers throughout Westchester as key to the development of all video and printed materials.  We recruited eight participants at each Senior Center and all participants were awarded a round-trip Metro Card as incentive.  The comprehensive research methodology revealed that the majority of Westchester seniors want to be more independent and would prefer to do their daily errands alone without having to rely on others for their travel. However, the senior respondents stated that driving themselves was of great concern to them because of such physical declines in vision, hearing and motor skills.  Although most of these seniors agreed that driving themselves is now often problematic, they still expressed a resistance to bus travel due to the misperceptions they had about bus travel and their lack of information about the basics of bus ridership in Westchester County (i.e., bus stops, fares, routes, etc.).

We surveyed these seniors following our focus groups, presentations, video showing and the distribution of print materials.  The response was all positive with the majority stating that they would now like to try riding on the bus, if they hadn’t before.

 

THE VIDEO

We produced an engaging 10-minute video that provided a colorful and compelling overview of the Senior B.E.A.T. program with information about bus routes, safety rules and Reduced Fair Metro Card usage. This video featured interviews with seniors, key program leaders and bus drivers, as well as a look at seniors getting on and off the bus, at the bus stop and enjoying a bus ride with friends.

 

BROCHURE/WORKBOOK

We produced a pocket-sized printed workbook/brochure that highlights the Senior B.E.A.T. presentation. The brochure features photos of seniors riding the bus, waiting at a bus stop, getting on/off the bus to reinforce familiarity and comfort, as well as a “Plan a Trip” lesson plan. In addition, the materials and copy, as well as the graphic look of the brochure were used to create a PowerPoint presentation for later use by representatives from the Westchester County Department of Transportation in presentations to seniors at Senior Centers throughout the County.

 

TRIVIA GAME PAMPHLET

We created a trivia game on a card with a “map design” that featured questions about favorite Westchester destinations with multiple choice answers to include corresponding buses and routes. (i.e. Q. What is the name of the movie theater in Northern Westchester that plays artistic and foreign films, and also offers film classes and speakers? A. Jacob Burns Film Center, located in Pleasantville, NY, Buses #6 and #19.)

The front of the card served as a map with “favorite destinations” marked and the back side of the card featured important ride and route info.

 

CROSSWORD PUZZLE

We created a crossword puzzle that featured words and information that reinforced what was learned during the video/discussion presentation.

 

DSC_0178PRESS CONFERENCE/MEDIA CAMPAIGN

We organized a press conference to unveil the Senior B.E.A.T. program.  Shannon White of News 12 was the Emcee for the event, which was well-attended by many elected officials and dignitaries. A press release that announced the program and provided info about the materials was developed, along with individually-tailored pitch letters and media advisories. 

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